Roberts faces charges of importing narcotics or possession or using drugs for himself. The most serious charge carries the death penalty. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro
Roberts faces charges of importing narcotics or possession or using drugs for himself. The most serious charge carries the death penalty. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro

Bali drug accused from Toowoomba ‘needs help, not jail’

AUSTRALIAN accountant and former political candidate Isaac Roberts needs drug rehabilitation and support not jail, a police psychiatrist and a drugs counsellor who have been treating him told his Bali drugs trial on Thursday.

And it was revealed that after his December 4 arrest last year that Roberts, 36, had attempted suicide while in police custody.

But the judges who will decide his fate were told on Thursday that he was now drug-free, after a 17-year addiction, after being treated in a private drug rehabilitation centre.

Police psychiatrist Made Oka Semadi, from Bhayangkara police hospital, said that when Roberts was first arrested he was suffering depression and could not sleep for a month.

Isaac Roberts arriving for his trial at Denpasar District Court. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Isaac Roberts arriving for his trial at Denpasar District Court. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

Roberts had attempted to commit suicide in police custody after his arrest, taking a large amount of anti-depressives.

He said Roberts' longtime drug use included injecting methamphetamine every day during the past four years, two to three times a day.

"The indication I saw is that he had depression and drug addiction. Both could not be separated. He is suffering both. He needs social treatment, rehabilitation," Dr Semadi said.

He said Roberts needed drug rehabilitation for at least six months and that medical treatment alone was not enough.

"He needs to be supervised continuously. He needs a counsellor to accompany him. He also still needs a psychiatrist as he has depression. I am worried that he will commit suicide. In the police station (after his arrest) he also tried to commit suicide."

Roberts is currently in a private drug rehabilitation facility. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Roberts is currently in a private drug rehabilitation facility. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

Dr Semadi said that jail would only make Roberts' condition worse and it was more ideal for him to remain in rehabilitation.

Roberts is currently in a private drug rehabilitation facility, living in a house in Sanur, and not in Kerobokan jail as is customary for prisoners on trial in Bali. His stay, at the rehabilitation centre, which involves walks along the beach, is sanctioned by the court and prosecution in his case.

Asked his response to the doctor's evidence, Roberts said it was all correct.

Roberts was arrested on December 4 last year, after arriving in Bali. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Roberts was arrested on December 4 last year, after arriving in Bali. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

Daniel Satria Pambudi, a counsellor from Anargya Foundation, the private rehabilitation centre where Roberts is being treated, told the court that Roberts had a commitment and motivation to stop using drugs.

Mr Pambudi said that when Roberts first arrived at the program, on January 31, on a score of one to 11, Roberts' addiction rated a nine.

"The defendant has a strong motivation. But it's not enough. He has to be placed in a clean environment, an environment where he cannot access drugs. And he needs support," he said.

Mr Pambudi said that Roberts had told him he used drugs for "working" initially but then became addicted and could not stop.

"He said that he had intention to stop before but he failed."

Mr Pambudi told the court that Roberts had made good progress but his depression had been exacerbated by his legal troubles.

Asked what would happen if Roberts was not ensured a safe place in the future, he said it was "70 per cent he will relapse again" and use drugs.

"He wants to live normally and free from his addiction. That happens in many drug users. They want to stop drugs but they need support," Mr Pambudi said.

He said visits to the beach were part of the therapy.

"It's part of wellness. We train him how to enjoy life without drugs. Like going to the beach, it's part of the therapy. However, it is still under tight supervision," Mr Pambudi said.

Asked how he was sure that what Roberts said during his assessment was true, Mr Pambudi said counsellors worked not only on theory but on experience, such as watching body language.

Roberts was arrested on December 4 last year, after arriving in Bali allegedly with 20.54 grams of methamphetamine and ecstasy and 25 ml of Xanax in his luggage. At the time he told the media he was an addict and that it was ridiculous to be arresting and parading small time users like him.

Born in Queensland, Roberts was an award-winning student and worked as an accountant in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, advising high-wealth clients. In 2009 he stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in a blue-ribbon federal Melbourne seat but polled poorly.

He faces charges of importing narcotics or possession or using drugs for himself. The most serious charge carries the death penalty.

However if the judges are satisfied that Roberts is an addict and is serious about rehabilitating himself he could be sentenced to further time in drug rehabilitation and not jail. Addicts are treated more leniently under Indonesia's drug laws.

Roberts will testify in his own defence when the trial resumes on March 15.